Press Release 05.12.2018

Consumers vote Coca-Cola’s “Smartwater” the most audacious advertising lie of the year - foodwatch Germany protest at company headquarters in Berlin

Berlin, 4 December 2018. Coca-Cola receives the mocking award “Golden Windbag”: In an online vote by the consumer organisation foodwatch, almost a third of the 70,000 participants voted “Smartwater” the most audacious advertising lie of the year. The criticism: contrary to what Coca-Cola suggests, “Smartwater” is no better than conventional mineral water - but costs up to seven times as much. The beverage company refers to an allegedly “from clouds inspired” manufacturing method.

“Coca-Cola rips-off consumers with the number one staple food: water. In order to pull the money from the consumers' pockets, Coca-Cola has come up with a absurd manufacturing method, which sounds scientific, but is complete nonsense. The 'Smartwater' is simply a water that's just a bogus one, sold at a high price,” said Sophie Unger of foodwatch Germany, head of the 2018 Golden Windbag election. The consumer organisation called on Coca-Cola to stop the advertising fairy tale - and at the same time made the food trade responsible: German retail companies should be no longer allowed to sell the advertising lie of the year. “The retailer earn a lot of money from the cloudy advertising promises - that must stop. They must remove the Coca-Cola product from the shelves,” says Sophie Unger.

Coca-Cola did not want to accept the negative prize. When foodwatch arrived at the company headquarters in Berlin, Germany, to present the prize, two security staff members friendly but definitely denied access. After a few minutes, a Coca-Cola manager stormed past the foodwatch team and the waiting television cameras and made a prepared statement a few metres away from the building: "Criticism is not justified". Transparency is "very important" for Coca-Cola, the label says "all important information" and above all: "It is the consumers who decide whether they want to buy the product or not". After a few moments, the Coca-Cola representative disappeared behind the glass door of the company headquarters. He didn't want to get involved in a conversation and didn’t respond to the consumers' criticism with a single word.

Coca-Cola advertises its product “Smartwater” as "vapour distilled natural mineral water for a pure, crisp taste." Behind advertising slogans like "inspired by clouds" is a simple process: the water is first evaporated and then collected again, lost minerals are later added artificially. foodwatch criticised the process as a nutritionally completely useless trick that consumers pay dearly for. At 1.65 euros per litre, “Smartwater” is up to seven times more expensive than normal mineral water.

In addition to Coca-Cola water, four other products were nominated for the Golden Windbag 2018. Almost 70,000 valid votes were received during the election period since the beginning of November. The results in detail:

1st place: Coca-Cola's Glacéau Smartwater (21,235 votes, equivalent to 30.5 percent of the valid votes cast)

2nd place: Kids Tomato Ketchup by Heinz (19,547 votes, 28.1 percent)

3rd place: Corny Milch von Schwartau (10,889 votes, 15.6 percent)

4th place: Bratöl Olive by Dennree (9,398 votes, 13.5 percent)

5th place: Pea stew Gut und Günstig von Edeka (8,546 votes, 12.3 percent)

foodwatch Germany awards the Golden Windbag for the eighth time. For the first time this year, consumers were able to propose their own candidates on the foodwatch complaint platform in the run-up to the election. Four of the five nominated products were suggestions from users: the products from Heinz, Schwartau, Dennree and Edeka. The "Smartwater" from Coca-Cola had nominated foodwatch.

With the online vote for the Golden Windbag, foodwatch wants to draw attention to legal deception in the food sector and achieve better legal labelling rules. The consumer organisation demands, among other things, an understandable nutritional traffic light, a ban on misleading health advertising and realistic product illustrations and designations.

Further information:

Results of the Golden Winbag election (in German):

Photo- and audio footage: and

Video-footage of all candidates:

TV-Statements (in German):

Sources and further information